Final R H E
Philadelphia Phillies (0-2) 2 5 0
Cincinnati Reds (2-0) 3 8 0
W: Wood (1-0) L: Hinojosa (0-1)
FanGraphs Win Probability | Box Score

The Good
–Two fun come-from-behind wins in their first two games. This is why we watch baseball, eh?

–Simply outstanding start for Brandon Finnegan: six innings pitched, two runs on three hits, nine strikeouts, one walk. He made a bad pitch to Maikel Franco in the first inning, but was brilliant otherwise. Oh yeah, he also got his first major league hit after a beautiful 10-pitch at-bat. Nice game, Brandon.

–Eugenio Suarez hit the ball hard four times tonight. One of those was his first home run of the season, in the bottom of the first. Another was a line drive single to lead off the ninth inning.

–Speaking of that ninth inning…that was fun, wasn’t it? With Cincinnati behind 2-1, Suarez leads off with a single, Joey Votto gave one a ride to left center, but it was corralled for an out. Then Devin Mesoraco tops a dribbler about fifteen feet up the third base line and beats it out for an infield single.

After Tyler Holt came on to pinch run for Mesoraco, Jay Bruce singled sharply to left field (for his second hit of the game), but Suarez held up at third (a good call by 3B coach Billy Hatcher; in past years, Suarez would have been waved around and been out at the plate). So, with bases loaded, Scott Schebler drilled a pitch to the wall for a double. Two runs scored, and Schebler was mobbed by his teammates.

–Another game, another gorgeous defensive play from Billy Hamilton in center field. The guy still can’t hit — 0-3, two strikeouts — but his glove is magical. And that glove, along with his baserunning, is exactly why Hamilton is still in a major league lineup.

–Caleb Cotham pitched two shutout innings in his Reds debut. Blake Wood was a little shaky, but he pitched a scoreless ninth and picked up the win in his own Reds debut.

The Bad
–Zack Cozart only had one hit in four at-bats tonight. Lame. I felt pretty confident that he was going to hit 1.000 this year.

–Joey Votto was 0-4. That’s not good. I bet he’ll have better nights

Not-So-Random Thoughts
–The Cincinnati Reds remain undefeated. You’re on notice, National League.

–Two strong starts from two young guys — Raisel Iglesias and Finnegan — to begin the season. If the Reds are going to pin their rebuilding hopes on the young arms…well, the early returns are promising.

–Brandon Phillips was a late scratch from the starting lineup thanks to a stomach bug, we’re told.

–You can’t win ’em all if you don’t win the first two.

–Robert Stephenson, uber-prospect, makes his major league debut tomorrow afternoon. Until then, enjoy it, Reds fans.

59 Responses

  1. Kurt Frost

    If he has the same stomach bug I had Sunday I can see why he’s not playing.

  2. David

    Devin Mesoraco looked very quick and agile behind the plate (based on watching the game on TV). Price will probably give him off days in April (like tomorrow), but he looks pretty much recovered from the hip injury. He ran well to First Base.

    • VaRedsFan

      Yes pretty standard to give the catcher the day off when it’s a day gam after a night game.

  3. John Walsh

    I must confess – I think that the 2016 Reds are a more fundamentally sound baseball team than years past. There’s a lot of good little things. Granted, it’s all of 2 games. But I’ll take the upside and solid fundamentals, even if they’re under-.500. The future is coming…

    • ManuelT

      I hope you’re right because losing ugly is an ugly thing.

  4. sezwhom

    Finnegan was outstanding. Per Hamilton: he can’t hit a lick but yes, speed and “D” are magical.

  5. I-71_Exile

    I loved the hold at third by Billy Hatcher. Friends don’t let friends TOOTBLAN. Thank you Mr. Hatcher.

  6. I-71_Exile

    In other news, Mike Leake hasn’t figured out The Cardinal Way. Too bad. So sad.

  7. mtkal

    VERY impressed with Finnegan. Loved the mental approach he had and the way he and Mes worked the batters with a plan.
    Speaking of plans, I’ll be the umpteenth person to say it’s only two games, but a lot of us have been bemoaning the lack of a plan by Reds’ hitters at the plate in past years, and these two games, there seems to be some semblance of a plan by these hitters, instead of just going up there hacking. I hope it’s a trend.

    • Joey

      Finnegan was amazing tonight! What hasn’t really been mentioned is how the Phillies starting pitchers have owned the Reds hitters except for an error that scored a run in the first game and a solo home run by Suarez. If not for the Phillies awful bullpen we would be 0-2. Against good teams we might have been completely shut out. In other news, we are 2-0 and my excitement makes me want to ignore everything I just said. GO REDS!

    • greenmtred

      Since Bruce is hitting the ball to the opposite field, it seems that he has a plan.

  8. Indy RedMan

    A sweep would be awesome but Charlie Morton has had the Reds # at times with Pittsburgh. Hopefully Bob Steve won’t get the jitters too badly and we’ll swing the bats tomorrow!! Hamilton is a defensive force out in CF but I’ll still like to see Schebler get some time in CF and maybe Holt vs lefties then they could pinch run Billy and bring in him defensively. I really think Suarez hits .300 with 20 hrs this year….he’s the real deal with the bat in his hand and I like the way he gets some lift to the ball from his swing! That’s prob going to get him another 4-5 hrs in GABP when it warms up even when he doesn’t get all of it.

  9. Jeff Morris

    I agree, in years past, especially that one guy we had as a third base coach, Steve Smith. So glad Billy Hatcher held up that runner, it paid off tonight. Cozart, and especially Hamilton are taking too many pitches for strikes. When you get behind in the count, in the big leagues, you tend to make more outs. Not sure if Hamilton will get much better as a hitter? Finnegan had a great outing. Great Win for the Reds.

  10. mtkal

    I knew there had been talk of Hamilton sticking with hitting from the right side, but the announcers on ESPN2 tonight said that Billy wanted to give up switch hitting and just hit right handed and the Reds’ management said no, and told him to stick with switch hitting.
    I just think that’s nuts. A shame if it’s true IMO.

    • Indy RedMan

      I’m not going to beat this into the ground any longer but that’s why I wanted the Reds to sign Dexter Fowler. He’s a proven leadoff man and it would’ve subtracted from the Cubs if we got him and he also could’ve been a good backup plan for CF in the likely possibility that Hamilton will never hit and won’t make it. I guess the Reds could continue to carry him like teams carry weak hitting shortstops or something but you need a lot from the other guys if basically 22% of your lineup is almost an automatic out. I don’t know how he survives another .270 obp season if he doesn’t get it going?

      • Fish

        It doesn’t make sense for the reds to give up a draft pick to sign fowler to be marginally better during 2/3 of their rebuilding years (assuming they are even competitive in 2018).

        This year’s team success will not be measured in wins and losses. Right now we are seeing the effect of small sample size and a Phillies team that is REALLY NOT GOOD. I still expect 65 wins +/- 5.

      • IndyRedMan

        He just turned 30….its not like he’ll be an old man in 2018 but its over. He turned down a lot more money from Baltimore to stick with the Cubs so who knows if we could’ve got him if we wanted to? I just know Cozart and Hamilton aren’t the answer at leadoff and its been a hole with the Reds for the last 15-20 years besides the one year of Choo.

      • lwblogger2

        I’ll take the over on 65, but not by much. I think I’m on record saying 66 wins. I could see 70 wins as a high or 63 wins as a low.

      • Chuck Schick

        Dexter Fowler would help the Reds go from a 68 win team to a 72 win team. Why would you spend an extra 13 million per year to suck a bit less? When they’re ready to compete, they’ll be a younger version of Dexter Fowler available. Most reasonable people would agree that Cozart isn’t the long term answer….he’s a bad aid and that’s what they need right now.

  11. ohiojimw

    It was good for the Reds to win another close game even if it was against the Phillies. Guys from winning teams almost always talk about a team learning to win the games they are in a position to win as an important step in developing a sustained winning culture.

    Due to the Reds overall talent and development level, there will be plenty of games this year they figure not to even be in the hunt to win; but learning to win their share and then some of the games that are closely contested will serve them well moving ahead into the future.

  12. nicolecushing

    Anyone else worried that Votto’s slow start could be a sign of a simmering injury? He just hasn’t looked like himself.

    • doctor

      nope, not after two games and given how hot he was in spring training which would seem to nix the injury theory.

    • VaRedsFan

      Patrick Jeter had a theory that it was because he was clean shaving. I’m on board with this.

    • Matt WI

      If he’s injured, it would have had to have happened on very last game in Indianapolis or something, because he was on fire all spring. So, I’m thinking, no worries.

    • greenmtred

      Votto has looked pretty agile at first base. It’s just two games, and even he is not immune to minor slumps. They don’t miss his hitting yet: they’ve got Cozart for that.

  13. GreatRedLegsFan

    I’d slot Peraza to play CF and hit lead-off right away, perhaps not a defensive wizard like Hamilton, but certainly fast and much higher OBP.

    • lwblogger2

      I think you pretty much have to stick with Hamilton out there for most the season. He has such tremendous speed and defense that if he can manage to hit even a little bit, he’s an above average player. If the Reds were going to win something this year then I’d perhaps be on board with replacing him. They aren’t though, so they need to see if Hamilton can hit in the Majors and they have the whole season to find out. That way, you give Hamilton two full seasons to show you if he can or can’t.

    • CP

      “…Much higher OBP.”

      How so? Excuse me if I’m skeptical, but Peraza didn’t exactly set the world on file in the OBP department in AAA. You’d expect some regression in the batting average department in the MLB, and since he walks less than 4% of the time, a sub-.300 OBP could totally happen.

      I expect Peraza to hit better than B-Ham but if B-Ham can approach a .300 OBP, the defense and baserunning will favor Billy. Pushing Peraza early to play CF is not a great outcome for the Reds.

  14. Carl Sayre

    The article was great and the comments are telling. This small sample is nothing to make any conclusions. I love Suarez approach to hitting he actually changes his approach to fit the situation. Cozart smoking hot with the bat is going to cool down but the injury doesn’t seem like it is bothering him in the field so if he cools off to an average hitter that is great. JV will hit and I think that Mez will hit. I know this is the Phillies and the offense is coming against a bad bullpen but who would have guessed 2 and 0 with JV and Mez not being prime? Then we have two great starts by young pitchers both made one mistake pitch and that allowed the 4 runs they have scored. This will still be a bad year but some fun early is nice.

  15. Kyle Farmer

    Billy will always have real value as a late game defensive sub and pinch runner. He was brilliant in this role back in September, 2013. I’ve just about given up hope on him being a viable every day CF, though. Hope I’m wrong.

    I didn’t see any spring training games, so I’ve only seen Joey’s ABs from these two games. He’s added a hitch where he’s dropping his hands and bringing them back up during the delivery of the pitch. Has he talked about it at all? I’d love to know what he’s trying to accomplish. He’s such a student of his own swing that I’m sure he’s trying to do something specific with that movement.

    • big5ed

      I thought he was dropping his hands about 6 inches just after the pitcher started his motion, but NOT bringing them back up again. It was not the full-fledged Eric Davis hitch, at least in my view.

    • Yippee

      I noticed the dropping of the hands, too, on opening day…what’s up with that? Hopefully he scraps it and goes back to last season’s form.

    • Michael W.

      The only bad part of using Hamilton as a late game defensive sub is that he won’t be there to save those runs early in the game with his defense. That catch he made last night saved a run for sure and who knows what would have happened if the inning continued. It is only 2 games, even though he looks like the same Billy from the last few years, but he needs a bigger sample size. I will take him in CF any day of the week on this team which isn’t expected to contend by most people any way.

  16. VaRedsFan

    Just like “it’s early” for the 2-0 Reds, it’s also “early” for Billy, Joey, and Mez, and anybody else that hasn’t had a good 1st two games. Chill-ax on only singling out our 9th place hitter. Give him a few more months to see if he improves on last year. That’s what this reboot year is for right?
    He robbed a guy of extra bases Monday and of a single last night, on two brilliant plays that I’m not sure many others could have ever made. That’s 2 hits saved in 2 games. There’s value in that.

    • IndyRedMan

      Its the eye test plus he didn’t hit in spring training either? Surely they have him on some kind of weight program but he never looks any stronger? It is early…you’re right about that. He’ll get his chance.

  17. IndyRedMan

    I didn’t realize Finnegan was so young? He’ll be 23 next week! I still see him as a setup reliever type that comes in throwing 95 but when he’s like your 7th option as a starter when everyones healthy then you’re not looking too bad! The Royals got their WS but we really crushed that trade! Reed might be the best of the 3 lefties but I’m really high on Lamb too. If he threw that big loopy curve more often it would really make his fastball look quicker to the hitter. He’s got a good idea on the mound overall!

  18. Red Giant

    Great outing by Brandon F. I really enjoyed watching him pitch, and bat! In fact, his at-bat (and hit) in the fifth inning would have been my favorite moment of the game if not for Scott S.’s game-ending double.

    Looking forward to see Robert S. in just a few hours. Sweep?

  19. VaRedsFan

    Some other defensive gems came last night in the form of Joey Votto fielding errant throws at 1st. I can recall 3 such instances.

    Mez backhanded a would-be wild pitch and gunned down a runner trying to advance. On that same play Ivan made an awesome backhand pick, and wheeled around to put the tag on.

    All of these things add up in a 1 run victory 🙂

    • lwblogger2

      Votto made a couple nice plays on throws, good call… The grounder he missed appeared to take a nasty hop.

    • WVRedlegs

      Yes indeed. Votto is becoming the best 1B to pick out throws in the dirt. He saves many errors a season on Reds infielders. It often goes overlooked. The one from Cozart last night was especially good. The ball was tailing in and dipping into the ground at the same time. Great pick up by Votto.

  20. big5ed

    Hamilton shortened to bunt in his first AB last night, taking a strike. He, if my memory is correct, then struck out on 3 pitches, as he did in his second at-bat. I think he took a ball in the second pitch of his third AB, then grounded out on a 1-2 pitch. He therefore saw 10 pitches, only one of which was a ball, and the only one he hit was a weak grounder.

    Teams are not going to nibble with Hamilton; they are going to throw him strike after strike until he shows he can hit. And I agree with the Cossack–until he shows he can hit line drives with some frequency, he will accomplish nothing, because the infield defense will play him like a 9-year-old. Hamilton will also not draw many walks, simply because he won’t be thrown many pitches out of the strike zone, at least until he shows he can do some damage with the bat. Bunting won’t work; the defense is too close, and Hamilton is a lousy bunter.

    Hamilton’s bunting is counterproductive on other levels. Much more often than not, as last night, he immediately gets behind 0-1, where even very good hitters are disadvantaged. And if the goal is to let him learn to hit, then let him learn to hit by swinging the bat and by learning the strike zone, without all the silly bunting. Give him 3-4 full ABs, and don’t make the ABs harder by showing bunt on half of the first pitches.

    He probably does need about 400 ABs at the top of a AAA lineup, but he sure is fabulous defensively.

    • greenmtred

      Late innings aren’t the only time when game-saving plays are made. I’m a fan of Billy’s, but will admit that I’d be only mildy surprised if he never got another hit (well, maybe a little more than mildly..). However, the in-house candidate to replace him can’t carry his glove and are unproven hitters themselves. Give them all playing time, for sure, but Billy really does provide value–particularly to a team built around pitching–the way he is.

    • IndyRedMan

      Billy hit .250 in 2014 with 39 extra base hits….where did that guy go? Hitting .250 with a .290+ obp would look great compared to what we’ve seen in the last year

  21. ChrisInVenice

    Billy was hurt all offseason so I don’t think we can expect any improvement from last year. Going to be an uphill battle, but I think with the rest of the lineup they can afford to keep him in 9 spot, especially this year.

    • big5ed

      I agree that the shoulder surgery in the off-season probably prevented Hamilton from doing a lot of the core/upper body strengthening that he needs to improve his swing. Right now, the pitch knocks the bat out of his hands, unless he hits the ball on the absolute sweet spot.

      It’s early. As of now, he has a higher OBP than Joey Votto.

  22. WVRedlegs

    Finnegan made a big statement with his performance last night that he wants to be one of the 5 starting pitchers when the dust settles later this spring regarding the rotation. He wants to be a starter, not a closer. The anti-Chapman.
    Finnegan took a big positive step forward for the Reds last night. And did it on a crappy weather night. He won’t do that every time out. But to get about 20 more of those type of starts out of about 30 more starts this year would be fantastic. Not sure what kind of innings limit we’re looking at for Finnegan this year.
    It is a little interesting watching the Phillies against the Reds here early knowing the the Phils have the overall #1 draft pick and the Reds at #2. What the Phillies do at #1 could influence what the Reds do at #2.
    Good luck to Robert Stephenson today in his ML debut. I may to play hookie from work this afternoon since the game is on TV.

    • Kyle Farmer

      I’ll be thanking the man upstairs for FoxSportsGo and MLB allowing the regional nets to stream games! I wonder if they are letting WLW stream the game broadcast now as well?

    • big5ed

      Finnegan reminds me of a smaller Ron Villone, at least in his motion and pace. Villone (1999-2000) had some games where he was ace-level, but many more that were AAA level.

      • jessecuster44

        Remember Villone’s 15 or 16 strikeout game? Awesome

  23. lwblogger2

    Finnegan looked really good. I love how Reds starters have 1 BB so far. More of that please. I’m not sure the Phils are a team that takes a lot of BB though. In all honesty, I didn’t think the pitch to Franco was a bad one. It seemed up out of the zone to me. Seems Franco was just looking for it and smacked it hard when he got it.

    • Michael W.

      Totally agree. It wasn’t a bad pitch at all, just a good rip at a ball out of the strike zone by one of the better hitters on the Phillies. Finnegan was fantastic.

    • Red Giant

      If I’m not mistaken, he threw a similar pitch for strike three to a previous batter.

  24. WVRedlegs

    Schebler’s heroics last night earn him a start in CF and batting leadoff. Duvall in the cleanup spot and Pacheco at 2B.
    Schebler>Suarez>Votto>Duvall>Bruce>Pacheco>DeJesus>Barnhart>Stephenson.
    Interesting lineup today. Sweep!

    • Red Giant

      Interesting, indeed, and I’m happy for Scott S., who got two big hits in as many games. Should be fun to watch, with Robert S. starting!

    • lwblogger2

      Ugh, I don’t like that lineup at all. It looks like a ‘B’ lineup or spring training lineup.

      • ohiojimw

        Yeah, I’m wondering if B.Price missed the memo now that Spring Training is over every game counts. With B.phillips still out sick, one would think Price would have started Cozart and/ or Hamilton to at least put a better defense behind Stephenson.

      • Red Giant

        Good point about “better defense”. By “interesting”, I meant “different”, as I’ve liked seeing new faces as much as I have missed familiar ones, if that makes any sense…

  25. Shchi Cossack

    I have been curious about the lack of enthusiasm for Finnegan since the trade brought him to the Reds. I understand the enthusiasm for Reed after his dominating performance last season and the muted enthusiasm for Lamb, but I keep reading that Finnegan’s upside will be no better than a late inning bullpen role.

    I think Finnegan could be a key performer for the Reds in the starting rotation and surprise a lot of fans, once he is given a solid opportunity. Today could be just the beginning. Geez, 9 SO in 6 innings, that’s Chapman numbers and this guy is just 23 years old and has only accumulated 107 days of MLB service time, so the Reds control his contract through the 2021 saeson. He was absolutely dominant until he ran out of gas in the 6th inning during miserable weather in the 2nd game of the season. Even the HR he surrendered to Franco was a good pitch, just a poor pitch call, and that responsibility falls to Mesoraco or the bench, whoever was calling the pitches. The Reds just have an affinity for throwing high heat to hitters who excel at hitting high heat, go figure.